Alexandria, VA – On February 13, the Del Ray Business Association presented Ms. Preeti’s 7-Eleven with the 2020 Heart of Del Ray Award. This annual award, given to the business that represents the heart and soul of Del Ray, is determined by a public vote of neighbors and customers.
“I am so glad to be a part of this community,” said Preeti Patel, who has owned and operated the 7-Eleven at 2108 Mount Vernon Avenue for 10 years. “There are kids who first came in here buying candy and Slurpees who now are grown or in college. As a mother myself, I loved watching them grow over the years.”
“It’s really unusual for a 7-Eleven to become such a huge part of the neighborhood,” said Del Ray Business Association board member Gayle Reuter. “There’s never been a time when we have an event that she hasn’t asked, ‘How can we help?’ Ms. Preeti, you are a neighbor. You are a friend. You are family. And the voters obviously felt the same.”
Patrons cited Patel’s warm smile, welcoming spirit, and her support of local events and causes. 7-Eleven has donated over 2,000 hot dogs for the Halloween Parade every year. “She knows all the families, supports all our events, supports the schools, and so much more,” read one nomination. “She is always pleasant, always working hard, and always so kind and welcoming to my kids,” read another.
Over 1,000 neighbors, friends and customers participated in online voting. Past winners of the award include A Show of Hands, Jen Walker McEnearney Associates, Bobi Bomar Homes of Alexandria, The Neighborhood Pharmacy of Del Ray, Greener Cleaner of Del Ray, Del Ray Pizzeria, Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga, Caboose Cafe, Del Ray Cafe, Pork Barrel BBQ/Holy Cow/the sushi bar, and Taqueria Poblano. A business cannot win the award multiple years.
The Del Ray Business Association also presented its first-ever Forever Heart of Del Ray award to Affordable Signs & Banners. “Affordable Signs and Banners has been in Del Ray from the beginning, when there were so few businesses on The Avenue,” said Reuter. “They help businesses open up — and stay open — and do amazing projects with little notice and make them look so good. This team is amazing. They are what Del Ray is all about.”
In 1989, Ken Boland started Affordable Signs & Banners in his basement on Hume Avenue, outgrowing three locations (including one on Mount Vernon Avenue) before ending up in their current 5,000 square foot facility on Route 1. “As we travel up and down The Avenue, we see countless numbers of our signs and we also see long-time and new friends behind all those signs,” said Boland. “In the years we have been in business, we have outgrown three locations, but we have always managed to relocate to a new facility within Del Ray’s boundaries. We wouldn’t want it any other way.”
The Del Ray Business Association represents the independently-owned restaurants, retailers, and businesses in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria. For more information, visit www.visitdelray.com.